To begin, Jane Austen’s literary classic, “Pride & Prejudice”, is one of my favorite books and stories. And honestly, the 90’s BBC/A&E production with Colin Firth is the film adaptation. (Do not try and convince me that the 2005 with Kiera Knightly is better- you are plain wrong, get over it) So of course I was cautious when a few years ago a book came out rehashing the story, but with zombies.
Here’s the rub though- it was brilliant.
The story doesn’t change. Most of the dialogue is even exactly as Austen wrote it. There’s just the threat of a zombie apocalypse to contend with. And things like, along with music and language lessons, society also learns fighting techniques in order to best defend themselves. It worked perfectly.
And it translated beautifully to film.
The basics of the story are this- family of lovely young ladies meet some lovely young men of good fortune and breeding. Sparks fly. As do judgments. Mix-ups and miscommunications occur and hearts are broken. Eventually truths come out and all works out in the end. Now in this version of the story, add in zombies and socially acceptable martial arts and other forms of combat.
It should be noted that the sets are stunning. Also, the costumes were perfect- not a zipper in sight (take note, period pieces!). Especially enjoyed the creative adaptions of the ladies attire in order to facilitate ease of access to weaponry. And movement.
Prior to the viewing of the film, I had no interest in the casting. However, I can say afterwards that the ladies were fabulously cast. The gentlemen all appear too young for the roles, with only Jack Huston’s “Mr. Wickham” actually looking like an adult man. And Sam Riley’s “Darcy” left me lacking in the looks department- Darcy is supposed to be quite handsome. However, by the end of the film he’d grown on me with his performance. Though he is no Colin Firth. Lily James as “Elizabeth Bennet” remains my favorite character. Lena Headley as “Lady Catherine de Bourgh”, a warrior woman as no other at that time, was quite a delightful surprise. However, the best casting goes to Matt Smith’s “Mr. Collins”. The character is one of the comic relief bits and he does shine in the role. I have always detested Mr. Collins as he is a creepy suck up- something I can not abide. Smith fills the role swimmingly and delights in the comedy.
I could go further into what makes this film differ from the original story but all that an audience needs to know is that there are zombies. The language, while not Shakespeare, takes a little getting used to if the audience has not been exposed to it before- quite a bit more formal than most films today. But it is beautifully performed and the zingers are quite the sharp burn.
To sum up- whether you’ve read the book or seen the film, this version is quite a fun romp and is recommended. However, I hear there are those that are anti it due to the addition of the zombies- more fun for me, I guess.